Priceless

Priceless

4.8 12
by Marne Davis Kellogg
     
 

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Kick Keswick, one of the most charming, enchanting, and best-dressed heroines of fiction, discovers that a life of crime can be impossible to leave behind.

Kick Keswick has lived an extraordinary life. For twenty-five years she was the power behind the throne at a venerable London auction house and a master jewel thief. (Stealing only from those who

Overview

Kick Keswick, one of the most charming, enchanting, and best-dressed heroines of fiction, discovers that a life of crime can be impossible to leave behind.

Kick Keswick has lived an extraordinary life. For twenty-five years she was the power behind the throne at a venerable London auction house and a master jewel thief. (Stealing only from those who deserved it, of course.) All that changed when she fell in love with Commander Thomas Curtis of Scotland Yard and retired to live respectably in Provence, cushioned in beautiful food and wine. But now someone is stealing irreplaceable jewels from Paris to Portofino—-and using Kick's signature techniques. And to make matters worse, Thomas has disappeared with her secret cache of precious stones. It looks like someone is trying to lure Kick out of retirement, and perhaps Thomas is involved. With Marne Davis Kellogg's trademark descriptions of fabulous places, wonderful food, and the ultimate in luxurious living, Priceless is a delicious summer treat.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Another episode in the remarkable career of international jewel thief and connoisseur Kick Keswick follows her to France, where she's in pursuit of a copycat burglar trying to pin a rap on her. Readers of earlier installments will remember Kick (Brilliant, 2003, etc.) as a tough girl from Oklahoma who overcame a delinquent childhood to achieve fame and fortune in the most rarefied European circles as a happily delinquent adult. As secretary to and mistress of London auctioneer Sir Cranmer Ballantine, Kick got to know the world of art and jewelry from the inside, and she put her knowledge to good use as a cat burglar who in a few short years amassed the world's largest secret cache of priceless jewels. As befitted a woman of style, Kick always left a calling card behind-a bouquet of shamrocks-leading the press to christen her "The Shamrock Burglar." Now married to ex-Scotland Yard detective Thomas Curtis, Kick has been on the straight and narrow for nearly a year, retired in matrimonial bliss in Provence with the only man in the world who knows her true identity. But the honeymoon comes crashing down when Kick gets up one morning to find Thomas gone, and her own wall safe emptied of some of her most prized acquisitions. The next day the papers are full of accounts of a necklace stolen in Paris by someone who's left a bouquet of shamrocks behind. Is Thomas (who has a secret past of his own) framing Kick? Or trying to save her hide? Kick can't wait for an answer, so off she goes to crack the case. Send a thief to catch a thief? That's been told before, but this one has a few twists that even Hitchcock never came up with. A delightful caper: Fast-paced, atmospheric, and wryly amusing, theKick saga (like the Dom Perignons Kick is so fond of) has aged well and lost none of its fizz. Agent: Robert Gottlieb/Trident Media Group

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781587248023
Publisher:
Cengage Gale
Publication date:
10/19/2004
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
350
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

The St. Honore Room at the Hotel Bristol in Paris, one of the most elegant private dining rooms in the world, thundered with applause as Cecile Everett rose to accept the Legion d'Honneur honoring her late husband, industrialist Cameron Everett. Soft light from the crystal chandeliers and the candles on the tables and torcheres in the garden bathed the darkened room, while on the podium, Mrs. Everett stood still-the spotlight sparkling off her jewelry and honey-colored hair-and prepared to receive the ribboned sash from the president of France. Once the black-tie crowd of international industrialists and celebrities quieted, the president spoke.

"Your husband was a visionary," he said. "His talents helped fashion the future of French industry."

Mrs. Everett kept her smile firmly in place, posture perfect, hands at her sides. She had a lot of experience at this sort of thing, standing by Cameron when he was being presented with honors and, now, standing alone to receive his posthumous recognition. She knew the president would go on for several more minutes and then she would receive the sash and say a few words. Finally, she would be able to return to her suite and call it a day.

She was a very beautiful, very well-kept woman. How old? Maybe sixty, or seventy, or eighty. Cameron had taken such poor care of himself that by the time he fell dead in midsentence at a board meeting at age eighty-two, he looked every year of it. But with Mrs. Everett, it was hard to tell, her plastic surgeons had been so skillful, and the investment in the care of her skin and body over the years had been so huge. She had magnificent skin on her face - pale, translucent, pampered. Her midnight-blue satin gown was long-sleeved, high-necked, covering up the telltale spots and sags on her arms and decolletage that might give better clues as to her actual age. The skin on her hands was white and spotless. Her oval nails short and bright red.

In spite of Cecile Everett's beauty, what really drew the eye was her jewelry. To be sure, her pink diamond and pearly drop earrings, and the stones in her rings and bracelet, were extraordinary, but they all paled in comparison to the brooch pendant attached to her necklace-the Pink Elephants. It was a large piece of three elephants walking in a row, Papa, Mama, and Baby-with Mama and Baby following tail to trunk. They were solid pink diamonds, set invisibly in platinum with sapphire eyes and smiling ruby mouths. On the lead elephant's head as a crown of rubies with a diadem: the Fabulous Pink Elephant Diamond. The largest, most perfect pink diamond on earth, twenty-seven brilliant-cut carats of sparkling cotton candy. Cartier had designed and fabricated the piece for Mr. Everett as a twenty-fifth anniversary gift for Cecile-he had given it to her long ago in a tent at Tarangire National Park in Tanzania where they were on safari, surrounded by real elephants and spear-toting Maasai warriors. They'd tasted each other with shots of gin out of stainless steel coffee cups.

Cecile smiled at the memory as she turned to fact President Gerard.

"It is my honor to present this award to you on behalf of the French people." The president draped the blue-white-and-red sash over her head where it made a striking contrast against her gown, as she knew it would. He kissed her elaborately on both cheeks.

"Thank you, Mr. President. Cameron always had deep affection for the people of France and this award would have meant more to him than any other. I'm sorry he isn't here to accept it in person. I am proud to accept on his behalf." Mrs. Everett turned to face the room and smiled as the heartfelt applause from her husband's friends and colleagues buffeted her. Then, President Gerard helped her down from the podium and escorted her back to her table. He offered his apologies about having to proceed to his next official engagement and made a quick exit via a side door.

"Excuse me, " Mrs. Everett whispered to her seatmate. "You've been so helpful to me all evening, may I ask one more favor?"

"Of course."

"Do you mind walking me back to my room? I'm feeling a little overwhelmed."

"Not at all. It would be my pleasure."

It took several more minutes to make her way through the crowd of well-wishers and into the cool, uncrowded lobby.

"You're so kind to do this," Cecile said. "I'm sorry to take you away from the party."

0

"Please, Mrs. Everett," her escort replied, holding her steady by the arm, and guiding her into the opulent, old-fashioned elevator cage. "I'm happy to see you safely upstairs. That was a beautiful tribute to your husband."

Cecile nodded. Her eyes were slightly glazed. "I suppose. These evenings just seem to go on for hours. I imagine he's glad he's dead and doesn't have to attend."

They both laughed as the ancient contraption jerked its way to the eighth floor, and the equally ancient operator slid open the door.

"I had almost nothing to drink but it just seemed to hit me. I think I need a good night's sleep." She wobbled slightly as they made their way down the corridor. The companion held her more securely and slid the key into the lock.

"Here we are." The door swung open easily to the exquisite Suite Panoramique with its antiques-filled living room, wood-burning fireplace, sumptuous bedrooms, huge white marble bathrooms and private fitness studio. Outside, the lights of the Tour Eiffel and the Sacre-Coeur twinkled across the rooftops of Paris. Below, the traffic on the Faubourg St. Honore passed in a silent stream.

Dim lights burned on the desk and beyond in the master bedroom.

"Do you need anything? Would you like a nightcap?"

"That sounds wonderful," Cecile answered. "A little scotch, please. Lots of ice."

Ice cubes tinkled in crystal tumblers and single-malt splashed on top. "Is that enough?"

"Perfect, thank you. Salud." She held up her glass and they clinked.

"Salud, Mrs. Everett."

They stood comfortably, side by side, admiring the view of Paris as they sipped their drinks.

"I'm so glad the evening's over," Cecile said. Her words came out in a slur. "Oh, dear, that's a sign it's time for me to go to bed." She swayed as she placed her drink on a side table.

"Are you all right? Can I help you?"

"I'm find. Just so, so tired. Thank you again." She turned and headed toward the bedroom. "Good night, dear. Lovely to see you."

"Good night, Mrs. Everett. Sweet dreams."

Cecile Everett was so concentrated on trying to make it to her bed, she didn't notice that her escort was still on the premises and had casually taken both of the cocktail glasses into the kitchen and was washing them out, drying them carefully to remove all fingerprints, and returning them to the bar. Cecile's head spun, as though she were very, very drunk. She pulled off the jewelry while she walked-earrings, bracelets, rings, necklace-and dropped it all with a clatter onto the glass-topped table in her dressing room. She reached behind her head and unzipped her dress, stepping out of it on her way to the king-sized canopy bed that beckoned like a soft puffy boat.

The companion gave her two more minutes before entering the bedroom and tucking her in under the covers. Cecile was unconscious. She never made a sounds or opened her eyes. The rest went like clockwork. It really was ridiculous how easy this was, how trusting these women were, these widows and divorcees. And how helpful that little extra something in her drink was. As usual, it worked like a charm and had the added benefit of being an amnesiac: Mrs. Everett would not be able to remember anything past leaving the part. Furthermore, she would be too embarrassed, too prideful-too frightened of what had become more and more frequent lapses of memory-to admit she'd lost track of the Pink Elephant Diamond.

The array of pink stones lay like a pile of make-believe, dress-up jewelry on the dressing table. Each piece extremely valuable in its own right. But this was a big-game hunt. Any hack could steal jewelry from an incapacitated widow, but for this thief, only the finest trophy, a priceless piece, would do. The Pink Elephant brooch was easily unhooked from its diamond riviere necklace. It went into one pocket and out of another came a small, slightly battered bouquet of shamrocks tied with a satin ribbon. And a note:

The Shamrock Burglar

The thief left the suite-cautioning the maid in the hall with a finger to the lips that Madame was sleeping-returned party, and danced until two.

ONE

"Kick," my husband said.

"Yes, Thomas?" I shook the tablecloth and it floated to the grass like a fresh sheet.

"If this is what you're doing for our six months' anniversary, I can't imagine what you've got in mind for six years."

"Six months of sheer pleasure." I smiled. And that was the truth.

There is so much to be said for love when you're grown. I learned years and years ago-I won't get into exactly how many years, just "years and years" will do-that a point comes in your life that when you open your eyes in the morning, there'd better be more going on in your bed than matinee idol good looks and a strong libido, because if you're going to make it for the long haul, at some point you're going to need to have a conversation. And if that conversation isn't interesting, well, forget it.

Thomas and I weren't quite yet "Love Among the Ruins," but, thank God, we weren't children with stars in our eyes, either. Let me put it this way: We were experienced. We had the good sense to appreciate the subtleties and refinements of life: when to speak, when to stay silent; the rich satisfaction of enjoying each other's company over excellent food and fine wine; sharing common interests in books and art and music; the pleasure and intimacy of love without any silly show-off acrobatics; long, quiet walk. And finesse. Ah, yes, finesse-the ability to do something grand without appearing to have done anything at all.

"Where do you want me to set the pie?" He'd carried it carefully from the house. I think it was the most perfect lemon meringue pie I'd ever made.

"Here, I'll take it." I placed it in the center of the cloth. "Why don't you open the wine?"

"With pleasure." Thomas slid one of the mildly chilled bottles of Chinon from a wicker basket.

"This is lovely," he said, "Clos Varness '98. Nicely done, Kick."

The late May sun sparkled through the apple tree's lime-green leaves, my apple tree on my beautiful little farm in Provence-La Petite Pomme-just outside of Eygalieres. I'd owned the farm for several years. It was as close to paradise on earth as one can get-several acres of crops, sometimes sunflowers, sometimes lamb's lettuce, flower, herb, and vegetable gardens, and an apple orchard whose trees produced little pink apples, slightly larger than crabapples but smaller than normal. A rock, olive tree-lined lane meandered it's way to the little yellow farmhouse with its hyacinth-blue shutters and jasmine espaliers.

I moved here, permanently, from London over a year ago, happily single, wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. Ill gotten gains to be sure, but now I'm in the process of trying to rectify all that. I live a completely respectable life, one without secrets. Well, with fewer at any rate. I have so many, it would be impossible to abandon them all at one time.

My name is Kick Keswick and I am-or rather was - the Shamrock Burglar-revered in the annals of London's criminal archives as the finest, most successful, most talented, and most notorious jewel thief in all history.

Copyright 2004 by Marne Davis Kellogg

Meet the Author

A native of Denver, Colorado, Marne Davis Kellogg was educated in Paris and Rome. From 1966 to 1968, she volunteered as a Military Airlift Command/Braniff flight attendant, serving on troop transports to Vietnam. Marne has worked as a translator for a Colorado-based international oil company, a consumer reporter for a radio station, the director of communications for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, an assistant bureau chief for the Rocky Mountain bureau of People magazine, and since 1981 has been executive vice president of the Kellogg Organization, Inc., a national fund-raising counseling firm.

Marne and her husband, Peter, the president and CEO of the Kellogg Organization, live in Denver and on their Colorado ranch.

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Priceless 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most delightful easy read I've read in a long while. One to pass on to friends and family, as well as reread for pure fun and pleasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It made me curious enough to purchase the next book in the series. Interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kick Keswick is a retired jewel thief. She wasn¿t just any jewel thief, she was the Shamrock Burglar. Now she and her husband, Commander Thomas Curtis of the Scotland Yard, have retired to their wonderful home in Provence. They enjoy wonderful food and picnics in lavender-filled fields. Not long after Thomas disappears with her secret cache of precious stones and a cryptic note, Kick starts hearing about the antics of the Shamrock Burglar stealing irreplaceable jewels. Since she didn¿t do the thefts, she knows an imposter is out using her signature. And they aren¿t using it right, she might add. She fears Thomas has betrayed her and heads off to figure out who is pretending to be the Shamrock Burglar and see if she can trip them up without being caught herself. She also finds out that her husband is heading up the investigation. She ends up in Portofino where there is to be a large ball. She is watching the various people trying to figure out who the burglar is. Plus she is scoping out the location of the ball. Various interesting things happen along the way. She is finally able to gain access and stay at the home where the ball will be held. Now, can she find a way to thwart the thief and get away without being caught? I love this series. Kick Keswick is so much fun. She is charming and always wonderfully dressed. Her antics are delightful and there is plenty of intrigue to keep you guessing. Not only is she a well-developed character, but the places she visits are described so well, I feel like I visited them. Plus what woman wouldn¿t love reading about all the wonderful jewelry and diamonds! I look forward to many more adventures of Kick. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
She led a duel life as the power behind a London auction house while separating the undeserving rich from their fabulous jewels. Kick Keswick was a media icon for her daring thefts, always leaving a bouquet of shamrocks tied by a ribbon behind. Never caught, she retired to Province where she married Scotland Yard¿s Thomas Curtis, an art thief known as the Samaritan Burglar. They were very happy in their new life until the day Thomas disappears with Kick¿s jewels................................ A heartbroken Kick becomes very angry when she reads about a jewel thief that is using her name and leaving a bunch of shamrocks behind after each heist. Afraid that if the thief continues she will be caught for past crimes, Kick decides to find the imposter, recover the jewelry and return it to its owners. In Portafuro, at a private charity event, the Millennium Star will be worn by a Hollywood actress. No true jewel thief can resist such an offering; Kick finagles an invitation to slay at the villa where she puts a plan in motion that will allow her if she is lucky to steal the Star and the rest of the jewels the imposter took.............................................. Kick is her adorable, felonious self, a mature, wealthy vulnerable woman who has come out of retirement to catch a thief. This upbeat comic crime caper is fast paced, extremely creative and filled with quirky characters that add much spice to this sensual suspense tale. Ironically, Thomas is the person in charge of catching the thief and the meeting at the Villa between the estranged husband and wife is a memorable scene............................. Hariet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Superbly written, this mystery kept me guessing. I look forward to reading more from this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sonfollower More than 1 year ago
Fun story. Enjoyed as much as the first in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marne Davis Kellogg hits another home run with this edition to Kick Keswick's life. The descriptions of the rich and famous was just too hilarious. What a riot! And a great mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sde.ifhtful ... Fun to read. Ordered the next book .. Perfect
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago